H.V. McKay Sunshine Collection




The McKay collection includes over 13,000 photographs, 750 films, more than 3,000 trade publications, working models of equipment, company archives and other objects. The collection began with donations from Hugh Victor McKay in the first decade of the 20th century, and a number of important family donations were made during the 1960s. The largest donation came as the result of an employee rescuing material from a dumpster in the 1980s. The collection ranges from the 1880s to the most recent agricultural developments and maps the changing fortunes of Australian manufacturing and export markets.

In 1884, frustrated by the slow and laborious nature of harvesting wheat, Hugh Victor McKay aged 18, assembled a stripper harvester on his father's property at Drummarton, Victoria. The Sunshine Stripper Harvester was immensely popular, and in the early 1890s McKay established his Sunshine Harvester Works in Ballarat. The harvester played an important role in establishing Australia as a leading cereal producing country, and was one of the first manufactured products to be exported. In 1906, McKay moved his manufacturing operations from Ballarat to Braybrook Junction (later known as Sunshine) on the western outskirts of Melbourne. The new site offered dual benefits to the rapidly expanding manufacturing business which was already selling its products throughout Australian and into export markets in South America. It was adjacent to a major railway junction providing easy access to Victorian farming districts and the Port of Melbourne, while its location in a rural shire on the outer edge of Melbourne was beyond the reach of the Wages Board. Anticipating the need for a localised workforce, McKay secured 400 acres of land at Braybrook Junction with the aim of subdividing the land and encouraging his workers to settle locally. The company contributed to the development of housing, electricity supply, gardens and public facilities. These were important investments in supporting McKay's growing enterprise and fostering a stable and loyal workforce. In 1907 Braybrook Junction, now a small township, was renamed Sunshine in recognition of the contribution of the Sunshine Harvester Works to the development of the locality. In 1921 the company was reformed as H.V. McKay Pty Ltd, although H.V. McKay and his family retained a controlling interest. By this time the H.V. McKay Company had become the largest manufacturing enterprise in the Southern Hemisphere. Employing over 3000 workers and manufacturing an extensive range of farming equipment and implements. By the time of H.V. McKay's death in 1926 the factory covered 30.7 hectares (76 acres). In 1930 the Canadian farm machinery manufacturer Massey Harris bought a controlling interest in H.V. McKay Pty Ltd, with the Australian operations of both firms being merged under the title H.V. McKay Massey Harris Pty Ltd. In 1955 this company was in turn absorbed in to the Massey-Ferguson global entity becoming Massey Ferguson (Aust.) Limited. In 1992, Massey Ferguson (Aust.) Ltd merged with the Australian distributor of the Japanese tractor manufacturer Iseki to become Massey Ferguson Iseki Australia Limited, which in turn became AGCO Australia Ltd in 1994. The McKay collection is regarded as one of the most significant industrial heritage collections in Australia. It covers all aspects of the company's history and includes several key items including a rare Sunshine model 'A' tractor and the original blacksmith shop where the first stripper harvester was made.

Please direct access requests via Museum Victoria's Discovery Centre


1880-1980; Advertising; Aerial Photographs; Agricultural equipment; Agricultural Equipment Dealers; Agricultural Implement Works; Agricultural Implements; Agricultural Machinery; Agricultural Research; Agricultural shows; Agricultural Workers; Agriculture; Assembly Lines; Auto Header Harvesters; Blacksmithing; Cane Harvesters; Chaffcutters; Combine Harvesters; Construction Equipment; Construction Sites; Crop Processing Equipment; Crops; Cultivating Equipment; Cultivators; Display Windows; Earthmoving Equipment; Engineering Works; Engines; Excavation Equipment; Export Trade; Factories; Factory Plans; Farmers; Farming Methods; Farms; Floods; Foundries; Front End Loaders; Gardening Equipment; Gas Producers; Gates; Grain Handling Equipment; Grain Harvesting Equipment; Harvesters; Hay Making Equipment; Header Harvesters; Horsedrawn Equipment; Horsedrawn Implements; Industrial design; Innovation; Innovations; Inventions; Land Clearing; Machinery Dealers; Machinery Displays; Manufacturing; Manufacturing Workers; Manufacturing Works; Milking Equipment; Mouldboard Ploughs; Occupational health & safety; Picnics & Picnicking; Planting Equipment; Public Gardens; Reaper-Binders; Royal Melbourne Show; Rural industry; Rural Landscapes; Seed & Fertilizer Drills; Showgrounds; Showrooms; Soil Conservation; Spraying & Dusting Equipment; Stripper Harvesters; Stump Jump Ploughs; Sustainable Agriculture; Tools; Tractors; Tractors Attachments; Trade Literature; Weed Control Equipment; Working life; World War I, 1914-1918; World War II, 1939-1945

Coverage Spatial

New Zealand; Australasia; Africa; Asia; United Kingdom; Sunshine, Victoria, Australia; North America; South America; Canada

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